Monday, July 31, 2006

Just For Scale

Israel and Lebanon are pretty far away and pretty foreign, but for an idea of the scale and distances involved, think about this, Harney and Grant County, Oregon at war. Harney is Israel & Grant is Lebanon, square milage is very close. Of course, populations are a bit different with 7,000 in Harney and 6 million in Israel...

Oh well, Grant and Harney are probably just about as foreign as Israel and Lebanon to most, so I suppose the analogy is pointless...

Oh yeah, they're my neighbors, so it means something to me.

The Working Poor and the Poor, Poor Pitiful Rich

OK, working poor, you can have your raise in the Federal Minimum Wage, just as long as the downtrodden rich folk get an Estate Tax break. Think this mess will pass? "I (Republican Representative X) voted for the Minimum Wage Increase Bill, so this certainly shouldn't be an election issue..."

Do you suppose the electorate is as stupid as they seem to think? Aw, c'mon, they don't think we're stupid ... Gay Marriage...Flag Burning...Terry Schiavo...Stem Cells...

Well, Iraq.

How much of a plan do the Democrats have to have? "We can do better together" might be enough.

Middle East Game Change

I can't take credit for the ideas I'm about to put forward, Thomas Friedman of NY Times gets that, but I'm also not going to quote him since some of my own thinking is involved.

I ask you to bear with me a little while I run some calculations past you to get where I'm going.

Hezbollah set off the conflagration in Lebanon, I don't doubt Israel has been watching for a reason, but Hezbollah did provide it. The question is, who gains? Lebanon certainly does not, neither the government nor the citizens. Hezbollah is now directly engaged with a superior military force and launching around 100 of its rockets daily, rockets that no longer are held as a deterrent to Israel, this is not a win. The press and sympathies of Sunni Arab nations are generally not with Hezbollah. Hezbollah's civilian neighbors certainly may hate Israel more after being shelled and bombed, but they also probably don't appreciate being "shields" for Hezbollah. Israel was out of Lebanon, ever since 2000, now they're back, not a gain for anybody in Lebanon. So, apparently the winner is Iran, since their nuke program and associated stupidities are out of the headlines, news and diplomatic. But how much of a win is it to alarm much of the Arab world? The Sunni nations other than Syria are unhappy and that doesn't portend well for Iran's overtures to be a Middle East power center. There is entirely too much enmity between Persians and Arabs historically for this to work well. Israel is in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario, a powerful well armed Hezbollah on their border is dangerous, going after a guerilla army is dangerous. Public opinion doesn't like civilian casualties, either.

Add to this scenario Hamas' difficulties. Israel had pulled out of Palestinian areas, now tanks rumble through them and a ruined economy is further destroyed. Hamas power figures are getting killed or taken. Palestinians may have been cheered by the tweaking of Israel's nose the kidnapping demonstrated, nothing cheerful about the outcome, however.

Syria is the land route for Hezbollah supplies and a major Hamas supporter. Being a pipeline for Iran's games kept them on the right side of a major military power and foe of their foe (GWB's regime change neo-cons) and as long as Hamas was gaining ground a Sunni Arab PR win. Now it looks a little different, they're looking a lot like the toady of the neighborhood bully to Sunnis and drawing the ire of large chunks of the international community. Bad relations with the US are now seriously bad.

What nation in the entire stew might be the game changer? How about Syria? If the US were to approach Syria with some other Sunni governments and something to offer, a serious offer, might they be approachable? There are some things Syria wants rather badly, the Golan Heights, regime security, and an economy that are probably available for a trade for cutting off Iranian supplies and tossing Hamas. This could put Syria back into the Sunni camp where they naturally belong, cut the chaos in their neighborhood (economic suicide), and ensure some things they'd like to have happen. Not to mention help isolate the Iranian infection. A peace agreement with Israel could have all sorts of salutory effects, for both. The US might look like much less of a threat in Iraq, and in fact be less of a threat to Syria with the terrorist links there broken. It wouldn't be inexpensive for the US and it certainly would mean making nice with a distinctly un-nice dictatorship, but it is also important to remember that it's a tough neighborhood and a bad place to be an altar-boy. It would mean a switch from regime change to behavior change as policy, but we really don't seem to be gaining much from the neo-con regime change game.

I'm certain it would be truly humiliating for the neo-cons to go ask Syria what they want to change the game, the problem is that the game as it's being played is a losing proposition across the board. That humiliation is also the reason it probably won't happen. So we can watch more GWB neo-con disasters unfold.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Political Poverty Bulls**t

Another Blog mentioned Carol Voisin's very small political warchest, like this is something surprising. Lets do some objective thinking about this, Waldenbush has or soon will have $ 1 Million to play with, he's an incumbent, his only apparent scandal is that he reliably votes for the interests of people who comprise maybe 0.0001% of the 2nd Congressional District, and he's Geo II's lap dog (well since T DeLay left). This isn't exactly a recipe for attracting big donors, and in a rather conservative district, being a liberal doesn't have a lot of big money backing. So...

During the Primary I wrote and said repeatedly that GW couldn't be beaten in the money game, that it had to be done differently. The money would have to come from the ordinary voters in dribs and drabs that would suffice to keep the thing breathing, the rest would have to be done through personal contacts, the candidate or surrogates. Now Carol's totals are not going cover even the most basic expenses, so she needs those dribs and drabs to start dribbling in. There's a link to her Actblue account in my sidebar, kick in something. If she gets starved out because you've decided this is a lost cause, then it is; if she can keep going she has a chance to do the hard work and so do her supporters. Waldenbush doesn't deserve a pass in this election.

Carol will be in Baker City for Miner's Jubilee 7/20-23, she'll have speaking opportunities and even get to ride in the Parade in my yellow SSR - top down. If you need an opportunity to have some fun that weekend, Miner's Jubilee in Baker City might be your ticket, and a chance to get to know my friend Carol Voisin. Thursday, 7/20, 7PM at the Presbyterian Church the Baker Co Democrats will have Carol available for speaking and meeting and greeting. Baker Co Democrats will have a booth at the Park Saturday, Carol will speak, and also be around for you to get acquainted. As an added attraction, I ought to be around somewhere...oh boy.

My Primary contribution total amounted to very little, but they enabled a fur-faced hick carpenter from the middle of nowhere with no staff and no time to get 11% of the vote, about 4,000 Democrats, the vast majority of whom had no previous contact with me. Those greatly appreciated dribs and drabs meant that something could get said and now I'm saying this, "It is utter bullshit to leave our Democratic candidate hanging by a thread and then criticize her for it." The money required to mount some kind of a campaign has to come from somewhere, from the folks or Waldenbush's kind of contributors, Carol is going to get it from "the folks" and that'll be to her credit and guess who a Representative with that base will represent.

This is not a "Voisin for Congress" site, she has her own, and I don't pretend to speak for Carol or to present her message. That's her job. But I also know Carol and I like her and I will stand up for her. You're darn right I'll vote for her and I'll encourage you to vote for her and to send her some of your hard earned cash, she'll make good use of it and she'll earn every nickle of it. Those of you who supported me believed that I don't engage in lying and spinning and do talk straight, well this is straight talk, Carol Voisin will better represent the 2nd CD than Waldenbush, hands down. This isn't Democratic Solidarity, it's just plain true, I wouldn't say it otherwise.

Fed Sponsored Health Lies

The Washington Post, 7/18/06, describes how the Federal Government sponsors pregnancy centers lies regarding abortions. When asked about abortions the centers which receive federal funds stated that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer, infertility, and "post-abortion syndrome" - a stress affliction. These centers are run by anti-abortion religious organizations and receive federal funds for "abstinence programs" which are to quote Care Net, "kept entirely separate." I also have a bridge for sale in NY,NY.

Let's see how this separation of funds works, I have program for abstinence which is something I want to do and I have an anti-abortion program which is something I want to do. Now I have a certain limitation of funds which might impede the operation of these two programs, so what I do is ask Uncle Sammy to give me money for one of these programs, the abstinence program since it's politically semi-neutral; now I have money to spread lies regarding abortion because George II likes to give money to Religions he likes (and nobody in Congress has the gonads to whack him for it).

Abortion is not a desirable thing, everybody's lives would be much better if there were none needed. The problem is that circumstances keep creating the necessity. Lying about health matters, whatever your religious orientation, is a serious matter, and considerably more serious if you represent yourself as a medical resource. Isn't it odd how lies and lying seem to surround George II and serious matters? Does it make you miss the days of an Oval Office blow-job as corruption?

Conservative ???

Does anybody remember what conservative used to mean? I never was one, but I have some foggy remembrances. Political conservatives were all about budgeting and less government interference, that's what I remember.

Debt was a bad thing, deficits were the work of the weak of will. The idea seemed to be that spending money you don't have will come back to haunt you one day. The cost of government would become unmanageable as interest on the debt mounted and the economy overheated due to "printing money" which would lose its value by having nothing to back it.

Then there was government interference, the idea was that regulations and messing about with the Bill of Rights was a slippery slope into dictatorship. Federal regulations were seen as usurpation of the State's role or of a citizen's ability (or company) to control his destiny. Intertwined with regulatory abuse was the idea that the Bill of Rights would take hits. Any large program would encourage the government to snoop into your affairs and push you around. Churches that engaged in advocacy endangered their tax exempt status for backing Civil Rights, feminism, pacifism, etc. Government was seen as encouraging and subsidizing dissent. The Federal Education Dept was seen as usurping the role of local school boards and State standards, as well as a waste of tax dollars. The largest issue in the size of Federal programs seemed to be the increased influence in and power over ordinary citizens' lives. Big Brother was the bugaboo.

Something seems to have slipped, the entire Federal government is now in the hands of "conservatives" and the things they were railing about are now issues of national security. Big Brother now seems to be our pal and Uncle Fed definitely knows best. Listening to the Right today it appears that the Left is the weak sister defender of the old conservative values. Odd...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Politics Is Local

I heard from the County Chair today that one of our Party members was so disgusted with the Democrats nationally that they were thinking about quitting. That's really not a good thing.

It sucks on several levels. Our County Party can't afford to lose active members, I don't think any can, but we get about a 1% involvement, that's not a lot of folks. (sure, Multnomah would have to rent a hall, we ain't them) This idea makes "us" responsible for people we have no contact with, for Pete's sake, Ron Wyden is the only national Democrat we have any responsibility for. Now here's the big part of it, those Democrats that this person is offended by were elected by somebody and you know what? They live somewhere (other than DC). They aren't so damn special, they have neighbors or old friends that aren't all that impressed by them, but some people worked to get them through a Primary and then a General Election, it took work to get them there. There must be a reason for that work. There are some Dems that I think ought to have an "R" after their name, evidently enough people didn't agree with me. Not my deal or this person's. Those "so-called Democrats" were elected by local folks.

Now I personally am a little insulted by this kind of idea. In the course of several years my presence has made some change in the viewpoint of the County Party, gotten a State Party Resolution passed, and resulted in the name of the County being linked Statewide to a Congressional Campaign, and that campaign wasn't psuedo-Republican. Now I'm not real special or real important, I've got friends, neighbors, and relatives who'll make sure you understand that, I'm an ordinary member of the County Party. Oh yeah, I've got a title, State Central Committee Delegate, so what? I'm also a PCP, what these titles mean is that I'm a Democrat, I'm breathing, and I put my hand up. But there it is, I put my hand up. I refuse to be ignored and discounted, that's local politics. Real local, local to the inside of your head. If you really don't like the looks of Democratic politics, put your hand up, refuse to be discounted, contribute to YOUR candidate (I don't care if it's a different state), and when a candidate you like IS from your area, get to work for them. That's how you quit being disgusted by where the Party is at.

I'm sorry, Non-affilliated Registration is one of the silliest things I can think of. It makes little or no sense to me to be so alienated by Parties that what you want to do is only have a vote after the Parties have decided who gets to run. Doesn't that guarantee that you'll be unhappy with your choices? How about having a say about the choices? How about taking that disgust and turning it into action? Nah, it's much easier to just bitch about it.

I don't care whether you voted for me or not, you were offered choices, the Democrats who bothered chose. The rest of you get to take what other people did. In this race, I don't think you got hurt, in other races that's not the case. I wouldn't vote for Joe Leiberman for national office, evidently enough Democrats from his state agree enough to put a credible challenge up in their Primary. That challenge will only succeed if the Locals put in the effort and money and VOTE. You want fire-breathing Democrats, choose them, support them, work for it. Don't just walk away.


Today I attended a memorial service for the father of a close friend and business associate, who died unexpectedly at 70 Sunday. The preacher had a lot to say about eternity, immortal soul, and other after death stuff and that we all seem to spend some considerable time thinking about it.

I don't.

So today I thought about it for awhile. I'm 53 and my parents are nearly 80 so death is a real consideration. I could pop off with the simple it's not knowable and so it's not important answer. That's really not quite good enough. We do die and things do go on after we're not here to participate so whether there's Pearly Gates or not, there certainly are consequences of us having been around. Some of us have kids, most of us have friends, and all of us have taken some form of action during our lives so what we have have done and what we've been will reverberate. I build houses for a living, long after I'm dust families will have the use and pleasure of my labor, that's something. I have 2 kids, they'll be who they are, and hopefully some of my good stuff will have rubbed off on them, and then their kids. I have friends that I am a better person for having, I hope the same is true for them. Awhile back I ran around a large chunk of Oregon talking about what I thought was important for a US Representative to do. I didn't win or even get a real big chunk of the vote, but I got enough to know that some listened and thought about it. What all this amounts to is that ordinary folks existence counts.

I guess I'll go ahead and not get all wrapped up in the Pearly Gates stuff the preacher was concerned with, I really don't have any opinion on it, and concentrate on the part I know about. We count, now and for some time after we're gone and we need to take care of that. It's not a matter of writing "The Great Book," or doing some huge thing, it's the small everyday stuff. I don't spend my day worrying about posterity, I spend my day trying to do a good job of it, the rest will take care of itself.